This article originally appeared on the FOCUS blog.

  • When it comes to choosing a cloud-based task and project management tool, the first question many users ask is this: is it safe? Precisely because these topics matter to our users, data security and privacy are top priorities for Meister too. In our special three-part series, we’re discussing the basics of cloud software, why cloud security is important, and why your team needs to prioritize using a secure task management system. This post will provide some must-know information on how it all works. 
  • Cloud software offers an efficient way to store data and access it without the need for local storage devices. Even if you’re not familiar with the exact definition of the term, chances are you’ve been using cloud software for quite some time. Since its popularization in the mid-noughties, this technology has revolutionized day-to-day operations for virtually everyone who uses the internet. Individuals save their files to platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive rather than storing them on USB sticks or portable hard drives, a game-changer especially on mobile devices. Similarly, instead of having to purchase and maintain their own physical servers, companies can instead use cloud storage to save costs and reduce the need for internal IT support. 

    About Cloud-Based Task Management

How Cloud Software Works
  • In a MeisterTask context, we use cloud technology to create fast, secure task management. In other words, the cloud makes your experience with the tool more efficient, more secure and more collaborative. Much of this is due to how the tool itself is used. Over time, you’ll use MeisterTask to upload a multitude of important files to your projects and their tasks: design assets, specifications for developers, content drafts and much more besides. A cloud-based task management tool means all this data can be stored online, without clogging up your internal storage capacity, and can be accessed without the need to duplicate files on every device your team uses.However, it’s not just about documents: cloud services like MeisterTask store countless other types of data to improve user experience, some of which are confidential and should remain so. This leads to a question: if everything is stored “in the cloud,” how do I know my data is in safe hands? You would be right to ask it, too. Cloud security is one of the biggest issues facing the online economy and the subject of intense political and technological debate. In fact, the security situation surrounding the cloud is so important that special regulations like the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) have been introduced to keep user data safe online.
    The question of cloud security is complex. As you can see, despite its advantages, using cloud software is not without its risks. At least a basic understanding of cloud technology is essential if you’re looking to transition. Let’s look at the security questions associated with cloud software, how cloud software works, and what to look for in a provider before investing.

How Does Cloud Software Work?

How Cloud Software Works

Cloud software works by providing access to a cloud via the internet and granting permission to use cloud storage for cloud computing. Its various components are managed and operated by third-party developers. Users typically pay only for the services they use by committing to a cloud software subscription — in the MeisterTask case, a Pro or Business license.

The first step to understanding cloud security is getting to grips with the terms involved, some of which are, rightly or wrongly, used interchangeably. Here are a few key definitions:

  • The cloud is a decentralized platform that enables users to store and share information. Its main purpose is to provide a secure and reliable environment for transferring data.
  • Cloud storage allows users to store and manage large amounts of documents, through an internet connection, making it easier to work from home. Users can store and access their data on any device.
  • A cloud computing system is a network of computers and servers that are managed remotely. It can be used to store and process large amounts of data. A central server manages the system’s traffic and client demands. It uses a set of rules to ensure that the operation runs smoothly.
  • Finally, cloud computing includes all of the actual services that the above components provide such as task management.

The Benefits of the Cloud

How Cloud Software Works

One of the biggest draws of cloud computing and cloud software is storage. In the context of task management, if you have hundreds of project collaborators, it might be hard to provide enough storage space on your own. Cloud software reduces server utilization while still keeping the same amount of storage space. This saves time and money for companies that aren’t able to maintain their own servers. Here are five other key benefits:

  • Cost-effective. Cloud computing largely eliminates the need for hardware and software purchases, as well as the time and expense of running an on-site data center.
  • Convenient. Most cloud computing services are self-service and on-demand, which means that businesses can easily and quickly provision large amounts of computing resources.
  • Efficient. Cloud computing cuts costs by eliminating the tasks that typically require on-site staff time. It also allows them to focus on more important tasks.
  • Scalable. Global distribution and a network of secure data centers help companies improve network latency and decrease associated performance costs.

Why Would I Want Cloud Software for Task Management?

When you start using an online task management tool, you’ll find there are many ways to benefit from the advantages that cloud computing can bring. Secure task management tools like MeisterTask allow you to:

Store and Access Files

Tools such as MeisterTask allow users to securely upload and provide access to key project files. If employees rely entirely on the storage available on their personal or work devices, there’s a chance they could run out of space while also exposing themselves to a number of cybersecurity threats. Using cloud software for task management makes it easier to organize and protect all task-related content.

Increase Accessibility

Cloud software means that task-related information is always available to those (with permission) who need it. Instead of relying on individuals to protect sensitive information and link it to others via email and shared drives, companies can centralize all task-related information while also controlling permissions in a single location.

This has practical benefits as well as security ones. Using cloud software for task management also makes it easier to unify information in a centralized database. Employees, partners, and clients can access files that are all accessible through the same platform, which streamlines operations and makes it easier to work together.

Gain Insight

Centralizing your tasks makes them easier to track. Many cloud-based task management tools offer reports on productivity that management can use to improve their strategies and project planning. With our tool, you can track employee workloads, view and mitigate potential roadblocks, and assign tasks in real-time through MeisterTask. 

Protect Data

Data security should be a top priority when you’re managing tasks or projects online. MeisterTask uses EU-based servers (which conform to world-leading security standards) complete with a system of 24x7x365 monitoring, for your trust and peace of mind. However, not all cloud-based services offer the same level of protection. Research data security topics in detail before deciding who to trust with your sensitive task information.

Is Cloud Software More Secure?

In many ways, yes. For one, cloud computing simplifies data backup and disaster recovery by allowing businesses to store and access their data in a secure environment. Many cloud providers have policies and controls that help protect you from potential threats.

However, if you’re thinking about using a cloud-based technology for your task and project management, you first need to ask whether that service is safe to use. Not all online task and management tools are created equal and some offer considerably more security than others. There are many factors that influence this: server location, security protocols and privacy policies to name but a few. Our opinion is that European companies are better-placed to offer high-security services because they are bound by regulations like the GDPR, while studies find the general level of cybersecurity awareness to be higher on the eastern shore of the Atlantic.

Choosing the Right Tool

As we discussed in the first part of our data security series, the consequences of lax data security can be hugely damaging to companies, which makes your selection especially important.

However, it’s probably important to mention that there’s no code that can’t be cracked, no system that is ever entirely safe from hacking and — as recent news events show us — no single person who is immune from a highly-motivated cyber attack. This does not make cloud software inherently more vulnerable than hosting files on your own servers or storing them locally, it just brings different challenges.

The more steps you take to avoid cyber attacks, the better protected you will be. In many cases, this means outsourcing your data to providers who are better placed to look after it for you. In fact, if you’re a smaller company, outsourcing data to a cloud provider who can invest more time, money and expertise into keeping your data secure may be your best bet. In the best-case scenario, your service provider will offer the following security benefits to your company:

  • Files that are encrypted and protected by firewalls.
  • Security measures that are updated regularly.
  • If server-based, equipment will be stored in secure locations.
  • Data that is consistently backed up for you.
  • Cloud software that automatically identifies and prevents vulnerabilities.

The Best Secure Cloud Software for You

Not sure what to look for in a provider? We’ve compiled a list with some of the most important considerations for choosing the secure, cloud-based task management software that is best for your unique needs.

  • Clearly-written security standards. Quality frameworks and standards are often used by service providers to evaluate their own offerings while keeping up to date with industry standards.
  • Quick and easy setup. Many service providers offer a variety of migration services, including planning and assessment. For example, MeisterTask offers direct migration services from Trello and Wunderlist, while projects from other tools can be imported in CSV and JSON format.
  • Long-term compatibility. Ask whether or not this cloud-based task management tool grows with your team as your business expands. You may also want to evaluate the breadth of services that the cloud provider can offer. If you are looking for a single cloud platform that can provide a variety of compatible services, then it is important to choose one that has many different products and quality add-ons.
  • Backups and doomsday planning. Understanding the provider’s disaster recovery processes and procedures will help you prepare for worst-case scenarios effectively. The details of responsibilities, roles and responsibilities, as well as escalation processes and procedures, must be clearly documented in a service agreement.
  • A high standard of security. You should assess the cloud provider’s security controls and operations to ensure that they are risk-based and meet your expectations. Get the details on how to secure your users and activity across all routes before committing.

In a Nutshell

For all but the biggest companies — who can afford the time and resources to manage their data securely in-house — cloud-based task management has already become the predominant way of organizing projects.

This, in general, is a good thing. Cloud-based productivity software, when implemented by responsible providers, offers a safe and secure way to access and manage tasks. It enables businesses to do more with less, giving them the autonomy and the authority to choose providers who share their values when it comes to data security and privacy.

Now you know why data security is important, what cloud software is, and how to determine whether or not your cloud-based task management tool is safe or not. In our next post, we’ll help you apply your newly-acquired knowledge into selecting the cloud software that is perfect for your needs.

This article originally appeared on the FOCUS blog.